Despite Silicon Valley’s success in the past decade, what if I told you that IT had its roots in Higher Education and Government long before the technology boom out in California?
Some of the earliest communication protocols were projects funded by research Universities and created by brilliant professors in the late 80s and early 90s. This disparate IT model is often a roadblock in University, colleges, and government agencies. Why? As soon as specific IT services became popular, those services were demanded by the rest of the institution, providing infrastructure for student and faculty in other departments.
With the premise of academic freedom and intellectual property being the mainstay of the University, electronic resources were developed and implemented as academic units and administrative departments saw fit. Year after year, the silos grew taller until CIOs caught on to the shared services model, eventually manifesting itself into a OneIT branded effort in an attempt to bring the disparate areas together for the sake of efficiency, communication, collaboration and building community.
If you’re in Higher Ed you’re probably already familiar with the “OneIT” trend that’s hitting many Universities and Colleges. Whether you’re just preliminarily exploring the benefits, or knee-deep in implementing this latest model, you’ve heard stories of successes and failures.
So what’s different about the OneIT trend?
Centralization of services on campuses, purchasing, and management of assets such as servers and software is not new.
In fact, past attempts at bringing technology resources under one umbrella on have led to phrases such as “hostile takeover” as central IT units attempted convinced upper administration to pull resources from academic departments, beefing up Central IT and leaving the degraded support of those departments — creating today’s OneIT concept.
The difference now is the forging of a true partnership between academic departments, student services, disparate administrative units, and CentralIT, rather than a one-way, dictatorial reorganization that has historically led to permanently damaged relationships and the death of more than one CIO.
Yet we can’t forget the driving force behind all this: Risk.
For the past few years, Educause, the association for information technology in higher education, has put IT security in its top, if not the top, issue for higher education institutions. However, the risk goes well beyond getting the rogue server out from under that art professor’s desk and pulled into your data center or cloud environment so you can ensure its patched and running updated antivirus. Enter OneIT.
Mitigating fiscal risk is also growing concern even in the most well-funded institutions, as well as being prudent with resources and adding value to the student experience without increasing tuition.
How are CIOs thinking about risk in Higher Ed?
Mitigating risk can seem like a daunting task, leaving CIOs to wonder how they can foster a high touch, highly collaborate environment with clients, while still being cognizant of the fiscal ramifications. Licensing, productivity and security tools, efficient workflows and automation of daily processes all need to be addressed.
But success is possible, as we’ve seen with a variety of our clients here at Acorio. Our best success at transforming dysfunctional, decentralized environments is by creating an efficient, risk-mitigating, single body of support with ServiceNow, and launching what we now call the Acorio Student One Stop Portal, a ServiceNow Authorized Catalyst program. Think of it as a one-stop-shop if you will, a single place for your technological needs and beyond.
What does One-Stop-Shop mean?
Too many touch points may not only cause confusion for students, faculty and staff, leaving them wondering who to contact for what service, but it can also lead to the taxing of support staff if several are contacted by infamous “shotgunners” whom may contact several different staff in an attempt to solve their problem. This causes unnecessary delays and duplication of efforts.
By adding a simple, robust Service Portal, an institution can provide faculty, staff, students, and other community members with a place to find assistance with everything from financial aid to wireless help, to signing up for student housing, to engaging alumni.
Acorio’s Student One-Stop Portal, based on the ServiceNow platform is the perfect, ready-to-go product. As an added bonus, it seamlessly integrates with the ServiceNow ITSM application and other ServiceNow modules.
Let’s take a look at the crucial elements of Acorio’s ServiceNow Partner CatalystTM Solution for Higher Ed.
1. Provide tools and training to all IT staff across the institution.
Financial risk is real in Higher Education these days. Finding ways to cut infrastructure and support costs continues to be a primary focus in an effort to keep tuition raises from deterring top students.
All too often, software is freely distributed without attention to licenses. Even if software licensing is adhered to, several individual departments may purchase the same, or even similar, solution, creating a cost model that far exceeds the centralized purchase and maintenance of productivity and IT management tools.
ServiceNow can provide an enterprise solution for managing software licensing, integrating hardware asset management, as well as tracking community technology requests and problems. This can potentially save the campus potentially tens of thousands of dollars (as well as staff resources) a year while creating goodwill with departments that lack technology resources because they are perennially underfunded.
2. Streamline employee management with ServiceNow’s HR application, all inside OneIT.
Managing employees in the higher education can be a time suck. Faculty and staff have completely different needs, are bound by different contracts, all requiring resources that universities are often lacking. The challenges extend beyond simple case management, but the onboarding and off-boarding of employees, including the provisioning of all necessary resources.
With ServiceNow’s HR application, the provisioning and de-provisioning of electronic resources save time and money with seamless integration and creation of all accounts, getting faculty and staff up and running before they even step on campus and maintaining all necessary information, case tracking and a self-service portal with answers to all their employment-related questions. Imagine all your human resources and shared services tools packaged in a single, user-friendly tool.
3. Minimize downtime by preventing outages and system degradation before it happens.
As mentioned earlier, networks at higher education institutions are often highly complex, but unique. While there may be a multitude of monitoring systems and software, often archaic and rudimentary, they often are functional in alerting network engineers about outages. Yet what if there was a single system that could predict all outages, and even system degradation before any end users were affected, alerting the appropriate team to the exact source of the issue with historical data on how to rectify these situations?
Fortunately, there is. Creating a robust CMDB with ServiceNow Discovery and Service Mapping provides your IT staff insight into the Business Services that are affected by slowdowns and outages. Event Management rounds out the trifecta with real-time data and Machine Learning to help report on and prevent potential outages in your environment. We know every minute counts when residential students demand that their network is as robust as the home network at their parent’s house. After all, the campus is their new home for the next four years.
4. Create detailed reports, track metrics, and display trends for stakeholders showing the value that all of the above have provided to the institution.
While relationship building is a key success factor, don’t forget the value of a data-driven approach. Every Board of Trustees is interested in the bottom line, and KPIs are key in driving business decisions. If you aren’t tracking KPIs for your IT organization, you run the risk of remaining under-resourced, or worse yet, being completely outsourced.
With ServiceNow Performance Analytics (PA) your institution can easily track metrics, trends and even provide predictive indicators and data visualization to provide even more robust reports for your stakeholders. Being able to show the ROI on your ServiceNow implementation will win over that Board of Trustees and upper administration.
As you can see, Implementing OneIT can provide your university or college with invaluable means of keeping your infrastructure stable like never before, faster resolution to end-user issues and be providing transparency to all interested stakeholders. But remember, it is a delicate balance of mitigating risk, streamlining resources and building true relationships on campus. Both qualitative and quantitative data must be considered when evaluating success, and in the true spirit of Continual Service Improvement must be analyzed regularly.
Get started with your Higher Ed transformation, utilize OneIT.
Are you ready for OneIT? Contact an Expert to talk about a Health Check of your environment, or if you’re ready to jump in with both feet.
While you’re waiting to talk to someone, download our Acorio Higher Ed eBook to learn more about our ServiceNow Catalyst Solution.